“Smile” review


Emilio Medina

“Smile” keeps the audience on the edge of their seat with unnerving visuals and uncanny faces. Its incredible opening weekend earned 22 million, which covers the movie’s 17 million dollar budget. Along with the unsettling atmosphere, the film explores the trauma and mental illnesses of the characters with a horror take. Although the movie excels in quick scares, it falls short of keeping the audience frightened and setting the atmosphere.

Emilio Medina, Entertainment Editor

Entering the Halloween season, Paramount Pictures released “Smile”: an unnerving psychological horror that did not leave anybody smiling. Although its high ticket sales measure the film’s financial success, the shock reliance and unoriginality demonstrate its worth in quality. Released September 30, the film fits perfectly for a quick flick on an uneventful weekend.

The film follows therapist Dr. Rose Cotter after witnessing the suicide of one of her patients. After witnessing various strange events, she blames the bizarre experiences on an entity that travels through people similar to a virus. Through investigation of past occurrences of this monster, Cotter handles the situation in ways that affect everyone and everything in her life.

Along with its extensive advertising, Paramount Pictures sent the movie’s actors to visit multiple Major League Baseball (MLB) games. These unnerving actors attended the games with a smile ear to ear and wore bright yellow shirts that displayed the film’s title in bold black text as a promotional stunt.

The central conflict the main character encounters acts similar to the antagonists of movies “The Ring” and “It Follows”, in the case of an evil entity moving from person to person with the current afflicted victim seeing its manifestations. The film makes itself stand out by associating itself with psychiatric health.

“I spoke with my collaborators and we were talking about how we wanted to avoid anything overtly, visually tropey. We didn’t want anybody to look at something and automatically be like, Oh, this is a horror film. We wanted the fear and the anxiety to come from the context of what’s happening inside these spaces. And with the hospital, that was a set that we built. I didn’t want to do anything gothic. I wanted it to feel more like a Kafkaesque bureaucratic administrative nightmare,” the film’s creator Parker Finn said.

At times, the film can appear as a joking matter when focusing on an object relating to smiling. The movie signals to the audience of the monster’s presence by using the signature smile. While the smile brings uneasiness, the film does not utilize it enough to scare the viewer. “Smile!” uses cliché tactics to scare the audience, such as making a character focus on a patch of darkness to drive up meaningless tension or a quick jumpscare to catch the audience off-guard.

The film explores and emphasizes the importance of people struggling with mental illnesses receiving proper help. The main character and her mother fall victim to trauma and a lack of mental health support. The movie occasionally takes place in settings similar to psychiatric health and capitalizes on the uncomfortable setting by using psychiatric patients. The movie specializes in unsettling the audience with disturbing social situations and startling scenes.

“Overall the movie was very entertaining when it comes to the overall plot and goal they were going for. One of the strong points in the movie in my opinion [is] the gore scenes which overall give a thrill to all the viewers. But although that is the strongest point. I believe that they could have made the overall movie [scarier] than the creators claim the movie to be,” junior Sebastian Rios said.


The Chant’s Grade: C-